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quinta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2009

Rio's Sporting Carnival - Source The Economist

Latin America
The Olympic games
Rio's sporting carnival
Oct 2nd 2009

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic
 games, the event’s first visit to South America


THE founder of the modern Olympic games,
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, insisted that taking part
in the event was equally as important
 as winning. The gloomy delegations
 from Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid wil
l find little consolation in the baron’s
 philosophy as they trudge from
 Copenhagen on Friday October 2nd.
The members of the International
Olympic Committee decided that the
 host city for the 2016 summer games
 will be Rio de Janeiro.
The delight on the faces of the
 representatives of the winner,
 Rio de Janeiro, equalled any beaming
 gold medal winner. A huge crowd of
 whooping cariocasgreeted the news,
relayed to a huge TV screen on
Copacabana beach, with
 unabashed delight. The celebrations
 are well earned. Years of dedication
 and hard work go to moulding na
 Olympic champion and this is
 mirrored by the preparation needed
 to win the votes of committee
members from every corner
 of the world. All four cities
 produced fat “bid books” explaining
 why they would be the Best
 showcase and listing the projected
 costs of stadiums, roads and accommodation.

The pre-tournament favourite
 was knocked out early on. Chicago,
thought by many to be in the box seat,
 was surprisingly the first city to be
 eliminated, despite a visit to
 Copenhagen by Barack Obama.
 Tokyo followed soon after. Many developing
 countries are reckoned to have
shown solidarity with Rio—and th
e event had never before been
 staged in South America. Madrid
 was thought to have only a slender
chance mainly because the 2012
 games will be in London.
Tokyo may have suffered because
 the games would be held only eight
 years after Beijing triumphed,
troubling those who advocate
 sharing it around more widely.
Politics, supposedly, does not
 count either. Chicago, a town known
for political machinations secured
the personal backing of its
 adopted son, Mr Obama.
 He asked the IOC to “choose America”
 and to witness the “incredible
 diversity of the American people.”
 Chiacago's resounding loss
 is something of a blow to his star power.
The Brazilian city’s high crime
 rate may have counted against
 it with some delegates, but most
 will have concluded that Rio’s vibrancy
will add to the allure of the games.
 And Brazilian enthusiasm for sports
other than football will not have
 gone unnoticed—beach volleyball,
 a relatively new Olympic sport,
is a Brazilian favourite. In fact the country
 will have a useful run at hosting a big
 sporting event when it stages the 2014 soccer world cup.
But is staging the Olympics
such a great coup? The pluses may
 seem obvious. Big building projects
 will employ lots of people who Will
 spend their wages in the rest of
 the economy. Railways and roads
 will be built that might otherwise
 have stayed on the drawing board
 for years. Visitors will come from
 far and wide, either for the games
 or as tourists afterwards. That AL
l sounds especially alluring in a recession.
The pro-Olympics lobby tends to
 downplay the disadvantages.
 Building in the host city may push up
 wages and prices and crowd out
 investment elsewhere. Hurrying up
 building projects raises costs.
 What suits the games may not be
 best for the city afterwards.
 Not every visitor during the games
 is an extra one; tourists may time
 long-wished-for trips to watch
 the sport. Crowds or inflated
 hotel prices may deter others from coming.
By and large, economists have
 found it hard to detect the benefits
 of big sporting events. Robert Baade,
of Lake Forest College, near Chicago,
 describes the Olympics as a “high risk,
 low reward proposition”, but concedes
 that the games may prompt spending,
 say in transport, which boosts a region’s
 economy in the long term.
The right event at the right time can
 give a city a lift: Barcelona, host in
 1992, is a case in point. However,
 Stefan Szymanski, an economist at
 Cass Business School in London,
suggests that hosting the Olympics
 may be a mark of recognition: the
 effect rather than the cause of
 change. If so that should also count
 as another reason for wild
 partying deep into the Rio night.


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